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Neural correlates of the DMT experience assessed with multivariate EEG (nature.com)
346 points by bookofjoe 66 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 197 comments

> Decreased alpha power is a particularly consistent finding in neuroimaging research with psychedelics7,8,11. Alpha is the most prominent rhythm of the resting-brain, particularly in humans, and particularly in adulthood30. Alpha has been linked with high-level psychological functioning31,32, top-down predictive processing18,33 and related feedback connectivity34 - all of which have been found to be disrupted under serotonergic psychedelics35,36,37

In regards to this, the same thing is found during REM sleep. The brain shuts down the executive functions, while the brain goes into extreme 'story generation mode'. A story in which you are a character. I think this is one of the most overlooked and interesting parts of dreaming. We are able to observe ourselves in our dreams acting without the constraints of our 'executive functioning' brain. This means we get to learn about our purely emotional behaviour, and perhaps spot where it is maladaptive. (I am very bias on this subject, as I have written a paper on this topic - https://psyarxiv.com/k6trz, which was discussed here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19143590)

That would explain why I've been using dreams as a sort of indicator of progress for my time in therapy and working through my anxiety and depression. Certain things I've been anxious or angry about and held on to have been 'resolved' symbolically in dreams leaving me to feel a bit lighter upon waking up. Also just in general my nightmares have gotten less, the more I've been able to work through anxiety.

What you are saying is pretty much in line with what Matthew Walker is presenting as a hypothesis for the role of dreams in his book "Why we sleep". I have no training in the field, nor am I particularly well read on the topic, but I thought you might like a confirmation that this is not just an anecdote.

Thank you for going to the effort of letting me know that. I will be checking out the book. Knowledge can definitely be power when healing.

One of the worst side effects of cannabis :[ I miss dreaming and REM sleep. feelsbadman

I hear this statement quite frequently, and used to agree with this. But now I get more hours of sleep and my dreams are very dreamy (9-10) hours of sleep. I use cannabis everyday. I have also tried DMT a few times, not IV though.

You still dream while on cannabis, I just don’t think you are able to record any of it to main memory. Actually from what I understand it we all dream a lot (with or without cannabis) we just can’t remember most of it.

According to Matthew Walker (Berkeley researcher on sleep), it does affect sleep. See this small clip, starting at 2:14.


The previous comment is still correct: even without weed we dream a lot and don’t record most of it.

Alcohol in our system at bed time impacts sleep as well. We’re consciously at rest (or blacked out from over consumption if that is ones thing) but our body is busy metabolizing.

Poor signal, YouTube isn’t loading. Not sure if the clip is similar, but as I understand it recording a dream and restless sleep from metabolizing substances are separate processes.

Indeed, in general we are not aware of how much we dream, because we don't remember. I should have specified better.

Weed and alcohol specifically suppress REM sleep, where most of dreaming happens.

Suddenly stopping weed or alcohol leads to a REM rebound, and people experience very vivid dreams. This association suggests they were actually not dreaming much before.

Huh, my most vivid dreams are when I go to sleep on edibles.

I'm guessing you probably don't do that 365 nights a year. It's not just a function of dose, but also frequency. If you keep your brain saturated with the stuff constantly for a long time, then go cold turkey, about 1-2 weeks later your dreams go off the scale.

I mean, I smoke moderately pretty much every night.

You only have to quit for a few days and the dreams will come back. After a week and you'll have some nights that are almost entirely dreaming.

I found they not only came back but after a week of no weed, for a week or so the dreams were really vivid, then after awhile settled into a more "normal" (what I'm used to) state.

Yes; that's almost universally reported by all regular cannabis users. Extremely vivid dreams (or nightmares, depending on the user).

According to Mathew Walker (sleep researcher) weed (and alcohol) supress REM sleep, so when you quit you get REM rebound, where your brain tries to make up for the lack of it. Hence the crazy dreams.

Take one day/night off smoking each week, take 1-3 MG of Melatonin an hour before going to sleep that night.


I starting dreaming again after years since I stopped watching porn. Took me a bout a week of abstinence. There seems to be some merit to nofap. Might be placebo, but so far I'm not complaining.

Don't know if you meant literally, but no-porn should not imply no-fap. In general I think porn can be detrimental to a healthy sexuality.

Flushing tubes regularly is supposed to be important for long term health. Otherwise often silent infections can happen in places where there is no proper immune system to fight back

I've experienced this as well. I wonder what it is that makes the dreams so vivid after abstaining from a neurochemical perspective.

I personally dont miss my nightmares of which I had many. In that sense I consider it a good side effect.

It is one of the primary reasons I indulge.

We use stories to simplify complex phenomena across time so that the known and attributable can be morphed and composited with the novel and new, leveraging heavier primal ones (collective subconscious structures as the strongest symbols) into something approachable. Dreaming seems to be mechanistically important to survival.

It's interesting to map out that our predictive tooling (from primal emotion to top executive function) is pretty good so that we appropriate the "right" amount of energy against constantly monitoring our surroundings. The higher we go the more energy it requires.

There's a weird relationship between coffee and sleep, or I make the leap to say any substance which have lasting effects on mood. It sort of offsets against the deeper primal moods and corollary activations. I argue that caffeine in this manner is pro higher-mental function through disrupting this summating sleep process (letting you naturally figure it out) and letting your brain attribute "= good mood" to it all. (humans are terrible at knowing how they felt at some point in time when the current is different).

Interesting! When you say executive functions, could ADHD be linked in a way to this? When I "zone out" it feels like REM dreaming while awake.

Oh, um, that’s interesting. I have found I can make myself dream while awake in a way... I use relaxation techniques on myself all day and it’s actually a bit frightening what you can make your own brain do...

What happened to me is I became more openminded, more fluent in my writing, more daring in my choices, and actually also more socially aware...

I can only compare it to eating the forbidden fruit of the garden of Eden, or to Buddhas awakening. I have such control over my own state of mind that I can calm myself down to such a degree that it almost feels like I smoked a joint, or work myself up into rage or excitement. It’s like playing yourself like a musical instrument as you constantly focus on your breathing.

The other day I had the bizarre experience of sustaining a sexual climax for what must’ve been 20 minutes because I had put myself in such an extremely relaxed state that I could just let it “hang” there forever.

This state of mind seems to be what artists, writers, lawyers and other people who just apply creative thinking in their work are in most of the time, as well as astronauts and professional athletes. The calmness makes you extremely fast and precise.

Interestingly, I began to learn this after taking ADHD meds, but now in need less meds than before. Turns out my ADHD was just a need to stay in a very calm and playful state most of the time. The funny thing is that this has caused me to climb up on Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

I think what ADHD meds often do is help you function but also push you to a breakdown and then your brain starts testing other modes of operation that won’t cause another breakdown. Facing adversity, such as the death of your mother, also seems to be a common trigger for it...

Why the comparison to the forbidden fruit? Because every thought I have now is a double edged sword. Whenever I think something I instantly see the flip side. When I look at other people, I read their body language like a book. Also, self talk has become frighteningly effective.

I wish I had a scientific explanation for it. The closest I can think of is something called psychosynthesis, together with the theories of Jung. I feel like what I’ve done is let the id and ego swap places... or perhaps the id and the superego. Feels like I’m damned near egoless. It’s almost impossible to say hurtful remarks to me.

On the way here, I had something that can best be described as a breakdown followed by a feeling of all encompassing love. A gentle voice told me it loved me and wanted me to be happy and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I also went slightly paranoid at one point and was convinced everyone was out to get me. I trusted everything my intuition told me, every suspicion and gut feeling felt like reality.

I got over that, but I rely far more on gut feeling now than I ever did before and it makes me very fluent in my writing and very unafraid to ask questions, etc.

It’s been really bizarre.

Hey friend. I just wanted to say that I grew up with a parent that was addicted to ADHD meds and he used to say eerily similar sounding things when he was in the thick of it.

If your honestly doing better I’m happy for you.

But if you’re doing _anything_ without the supervision of a medical professional with experience with amphetamines and ADHD, please please please, for the good of yourself and those around you seek out one.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration was amazingly helpful and kind to my dad. Their number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

I’m just an internet stranger, but your words are eerily similar, and I couldn’t in good conscience not say anything. <3

These are prescription medications being taken under the supervision of both a psychiatrist and a doctor. Again, I'm actually cutting back on the medications. I was on a much higher dose before.

I find it very funny that themes of self-realisation, self-discovery and insanity are often mentioned together. It's almost as if you have to be slightly mad to actually live a little.

And the moment you begin to express your joy of living, people come out to say "You should be careful. You might be going crazy." and other people, who have lost their fear in a similar way, come out to congratulate you on your self-development.

It's almost as if every idea is a double-edged sword if you take the time to examine it.

Tangentially if anyone is dealing with a stimulant substance use disorder, the new research on N-acetyl cysteine around stimulant abuse cessation is looking very promising. Something to discuss with your doctor - but it's available over the counter.


Stimulants are dangerous and addictive -- good to remember. Lost about 10 years of my life chasing a similar dragon. It's profound and interesting until it's not, and once the stimulants are gone a dark depression is very possible.

This goes out to every person who thinks they suffer from ADHD and believes the only solution is an amphetamine: Explore other options.

Totally agree. My experience is different. I went through stages similar to OP and managed to maintain for decades. Having a hard but intact marriage/kids helped with grounding.

I would similarly warn that stimulants+mania is dangerous -- make sure you get enough sleep! My friend just went through something very similar and now he is much more on the paranoid side.

Stay positive, be moderate, and consider Platonism or Western Esoterism. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be filled with loving kindness and peace.

This sounds like mania. Be careful.

my thought as well, particularly the bit about following amphetamine use and the death of their mother, assuming it wasn't figurative or an arbitrary example. as someone who has experienced mania it reminded me strongly of the way i've felt in the midst of it -- the sense of mastery, the paranoia, and feeling like i had some kind of conceptual or philosophical breakthrough.

Oh, I read psychology. Actually, it was mania at one point, but, uh, I... stopped it? And then interesting things began happening. My ability to improvise on the piano improved. My appreciation of classical music grew. The paranoia was replaced by the understanding that people usually aren’t out to get me. It wasn’t so much mania as it was my social skills turning on for the first time and it was a bit intense. I’m talking to people as I’m going through this and the feedback was concern at first, followed by keen interest in what I was saying, in the sense that people now want to talk to me more often, women actually pay attention to me and laugh at my jokes. I think if this is mania, it’s controlled mania in a way? I’m able to bring myself up and down and I stop if it goes too high. There are a couple of friends of mine who have had similar experiences and they’re smart people too, and nobody locked them up for it. I think there are people out there who can control their mind states like this and it’s a rather powerful tool. I’m positive about it. I live, think and feel. I have good days and bad days. Also, I’ve been stepping the ADHD meds down not up, and even late at night when they’re supposed to have worn off, I can still get into that state.

I guess in a way if I didn’t know breathing and relaxation techniques and didn’t know much about psych stuff, I’d be very confused and would possibly lose it, but since I know these things, and I know science, it’s a thing I can control. I’m not alone in it and I’m sharing these things with friends and while some of them don’t get it, some of them do totally get it.

I think what you should know about my story is that I was a ball of stress and fear before this happened. All my life, actually. The notion that people go through breakdowns at stages of self development isn’t exactly unheard of.

The scary thing, of course, is that it DOES break people down completely at times. It’s too much for them to handle... but when it isn’t too much to handle and you just grow from it? I’d call that self development.

>I think if this is mania, it’s controlled mania in a way?

That sounds like hypomania. If you're relatively smart it's like a superpower, but most medical professionals do not believe its something you can control.

I know nothing about you and you could very well have experienced a spiritual awakening, and if so I'm happy for you. From what you say a lot of this stuff sounds pretty recent; if you've lived like this without the heavy down periods for many years then it's likely not what I'm talking about.

I just wanted you to know that if it is mania or hypomania, in which case you will eventually come down, you'll be OK. You'll get through it and it's OK to get some help.

All the best to you.

Some of the stuff on the hypomania page rings a bell, but I don’t think disinhibition requires testing and confronting your fears first. What I’m going through, behaviourally speaking, feels more like learning the actual vs believed limits of what I can do to affect my environment. It’s a bit like being a kid and testing borders with your parents to see how far you can take it and then gaining a little more confidence. I wait patiently to take the next step and plan things out and then execute them. Again, if I was feeling a loss of control and my behaviours made me dysfunctional, that would be the time to seek help. Instead, it would seem that I’m actually improving my life situation. The definition of mental illness isn’t symptoms but whether they are giving the patient issues interacting with their environment, and as far as I can see, I fail to satisfy that criterium.

It’s of relatively recent date, but thinking back on it, I’ve had vaguely similar experiences before. Difference is that there wasn’t the same bringing online of feelings and abilities. It wasn’t as powerful.

Amphetamine can cause a somewhat paradoxical sensitization at lower doses. I'm not sure if it's ever been clinically demonstrated in humans, but I suspect that chronic 'microdosing' of amphetamine could lead to a manic-like state even when sober.

If you're planning on taking doses lower than ~5mg regularly, I'd recommend doing some research on amphetamine sensitization. But, I'm just a guy who likes reading pharma studies in my spare time and definitely not an expert.

Do you have any pointers to those studies? I’ve been taking a lower dose of methylphenidate (10 mg of 8-hour extended release) to try to avoid risks of tolerance and addiction, in addition to skipping it entirely for tolerance breaks. I figured lower was better from a risk standpoint so I’m interested if that’s not that case.

Most of the studies of sensitization I have seen have used low doses. I haven't been able to find many studies that measure comparative sensitization at different dosage levels. (So the extent to which this applies to higher doses as well is unclear to me). Further confounding, the definition of "low dose" seems highly variable, and it's hard to accurately extrapolate from rat studies.

"In addition, whereas both groups of rats developed the same degree of sensitization to 0.5 mg/kg AMPH, only the HR rats developed pronounced sensitization to repeated administration of 1.0 mg/kg AMPH. " Individual differences in amphetamine sensitization: Dose-dependent effects https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0091305792...

Amphetamine Sensitization Alters Reward Processing in the Human Striatum and Amygdala https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3981726/

Amphetamine-Induced Time-Dependent Sensitization of Dopamine Neurotransmission in the Dorsal and Ventral Striatum: A Microdialysis Study in Behaving Rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1859849/

People tell you to “focus” and it’s very funny because I think much clearer than them by NOT focusing. My brain isn’t so much focused on one thing as it’s focused on everything at once. Intuition works very fast so if you give it a few data points it will triangulate them almost instantaneously.

It shouldn’t take paragraphs to say that amphetamine salts feel good and make you masturbate for long periods of time.

What egoless person spends this much time talking about themselves to strangers? It seems logically contradictory.

Good luck and maybe consider seeing a therapist and show them these posts.

Conversely, three lines is quite enough to misunderstand things on purpose and put people down for little reason. Good luck and maybe consider seeing a therapist and show them these posts.

I am sorry for writing that so condescendingly but it was not an intentional misread. I also see nothing wrong with talking with our therapists. Maybe that is shameful for some but it’s totally cool. Sometimes to be good to each other we have to be honest in ways which are not comfortable.

I think we’re actually on the same page to a great degree :) Thank you - sincerely - for a refreshingly honest and comfortably reckless exhange.

How do you relax? I've been told always to relax more. But I can't relax at all. My mind is going. I try to find my breath, but I always find that I become in control of the breath. I tried to wet my nostrils to feel the air come through, but when I am consciously waiting for the breath, it is only I who can cause the breath. I don't even know if I breathe when I am unaware of it. I am always just doing. But I see other people's bellies go up and down, so they must be breathing right? Basically, how did you learn to relax to that state?

Sounds like you might have shut down (or have exceptional control of) your default mode network. Watch this video for an explanation: https://youtu.be/QeNmydIk8Yo

Would also recommend you check out Gary Weber's other videos and book, it might help you better understand what you have been experiencing.

The relaxation/breathing you describe sounds really intriguing. Could you provide more information on how to learn those techniques?

Sounds like you are moving through spiritual awakening. Congrats!

I mean, it looks that way, but who walks around telling that to people? I recognise it as that. I took some interest in Zen Buddhism, years before this happened, and would sometimes experiment with meditation and controlling my breathing.

“In the oldest texts of Buddhism, dhyāna (Sanskrit) or jhāna (Pali) is the training of the mind, commonly translated as meditation, to withdraw the mind from the automatic responses to sense-impressions, and leading to a "state of perfect equanimity and awareness.”

I don’t know if it’s perfect exactly but the whole training the mind to reduce automatic responses to sense impressions sounds exactly right to me.

I still have some difficulty controlling it but it gets better every day. It seems that the more I dare myself and confront my fears, the better I get at self regulating my emotions.

And damn do I wish there was science to this, because I was very committed to a scientific viewpoint before this happened, which is rather inconvenient at the moment, because my only source of information about what I’m currently experiencing is religion.

Out of curiosity, how old are you, if you don't mind me asking? I recall going through some reasonably similar stuff when I was 19. Curiously enough, in my case, I found biofeedback to begin to start pulling me into some similar terrain.

Now, ten years later, I feel much further away from it than I have before. However, your experience isn't the first I've read where breathwork allows you to control mental "elevation" (for lack of a better phrase) at will -- it makes sense, given the way that breathing integrates into the mind/body connection.

I’m 36. Did not expect this to happen at my age. I’ll be 40 in 4 years and I thought I was too old to learn things about myself.

I find your comments all fascinating. I have gone through some sort of spiritual experiences recently and have also had a similar scientific perspective. And how do I reconcile? The subjective with the objective?

I think the book Waking Up by Sam Harris gave me what I needed to take a step in trusting my own subjective experience. And realizing that there is knowledge and wisdom that science has not enveloped. And that that is okay--it doesn't mean it's out of reach for science, just not there yet.

My two cents.

can you recommend some resources for someone who's just getting started on relaxation techniques and meditation, etc?

Headspace has a decent free tier that's good for introductory stuff.

Is your "zone out" a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue_state ?

Because that is associated with

> ingestion of psychotropic substances

I highly doubt it's a Fugue state.

>Unlike retrograde amnesia (which is popularly referred to simply as "amnesia", the state where someone forgets events before brain damage), dissociative amnesia is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, DSM-IV Codes 291.1 & 292.83) or a neurological or other general medical condition (e.g., amnestic disorder due to a head trauma, DSM-IV Codes 294.0).[7] It is a complex neuropsychological process.

The portion you quoted is part of the criteria that excludes an episode from being labeled a Fugue state.

> We are able to observe ourselves in our dreams acting without the constraints of our 'executive functioning' brain.

Interestingly this can also be achieved while awake through meditation.

What is you correlations between dreaming and imagination? Are they not mostly the same thing?

That's what Carl Jung suggested as well.

Not to be disparaging but you have written a pdf alone that has not been refereed in an academic publishing setting. Calling it a paper in this context would seem to imply otherwise.

Knowledge doesn't need an entry pass to be passed around in an open forum unless it's too crowded. HN has a fine signal to noise ratio.

I'm brazilian, and lived a big part of my life in a city where there were two religious groups who did ayahuasca. In my 20's, I had quite a lot of friends who tried it, with some doing it quite frequently and a few even joining the groups as full members. The experience I had with knowing them before and after ayahuasca not too different than with other drugs/hallucinogens: my friends related life-changing events, consciousness expanding trips etc, yet I could never figure out any change they had that I or different friends achieved through literature, art, music, philosophy, or plain just growing older and trying to become smarter or a better person. The funniest thing is, the guy who was most outspoken about his transformation, about feeling 'the wisdom of the plant spirits', and how all this here was 'a dream reality', after a few years became a cop. Another friend is today a wealthy corporate lawyer. I know I might get a lot of downvotes, but knowing all these people who took ayahuasca became actually a strong argument for a materialistic view of the whole thing. You drink it, you hallucinate, it gives you the lasting, powerful impression that it was more real than this "other" reality.

Many people in the USA observed the same thing.

That's what the term 'yuppie' implied for a lot of people.

All these people from the late 1960's and 1970's that spoke about dropping out or how awesome it would be join a short lived commune and so on and so forth only to became intensely materialistic and image obsessed in their 30's.

Which then spoke to the idea that a lot of the 'ultra spiritual' stuff that hippie movement was involved in was nothing more then getting wasted and being fashionable. And when it was fashionable to be materialistic and image-obsessed they turned into that.

This may confuse people who associate hippies with anti-war movement, but the anti-war movement was largely a separate from the hippies.

I think (have no proof) that many people who identified as hippies got later involved with non-hallucinogenic drugs like cocaine and that made them forget about spirituality and they became yuppies.

The thing about spiritual awakening I believe is you have to do something with it, nurture it, or it fades away.

Or maybe many of the hippies got married and got children and that way became more materialistic. The spiritual way is the way of the monk. Or nun. Maybe

>> The thing about spiritual awakening I believe is you have to do something with it, nurture it, or it fades away.

Indeed, integration is key but often elusive without doing a lot of work outside of psychedelic experiences.

>> I think (have no proof) that many people who identified as hippies got later involved with non-hallucinogenic drugs like cocaine and that made them forget about spirituality and they became yuppies.

There's a cycle that seems to have happened to a lot of people in that era:

Breakthrough experience, followed by a failure to integrate. The adept then attempts to replicate or revisit the experience (to varying degrees of success) followed by further failures to integrate. Eventually, a bad experience (or lack of access to the tools) leaves the voyager with a malaise (or worse) to which causes them to either abandon the quest, or else to apply simpler, more 'reliable' chemicals which then lead to a much more mundane cycles of drug use.


>“Now you see here,” I said. “Everyone in this conversation is in favor of universal love and transcendent joy. But I’ve seen the way this works. Some college student gets his hands on some DMT, visits here, you guys tell him about universal love and transcendent joy, he wakes up, says that his life has been changed, suddenly he truly understands what really matters. But it never lasts. The next day he’s got to get up and go to work and so on, and the universal love lasts about five minutes until his boss starts yelling at him for writing his report in the wrong font, and before you know it twenty years later he’s some slimy lawyer who’s joking at a slimy lawyer party about the one time when he was in college and took some DMT and spent a whole week raving about transcendent joy, and all the other slimy lawyers laugh, and he laughs with them, and so much for whatever spiritual awakening you and your colleagues in LSD and peyote are trying to kindle in humanity. And if I accept your message of universal love and transcendent joy right now, that’s exactly what’s going to happen to me, and meanwhile human civilization is going to keep being stuck in greed and ignorance and misery. So how about you shut up about universal love and you factor my number for me so we can start figuring out a battle plan for giving humanity a real spiritual revolution?”

>“Universal love,” said the cactus person.

>“Transcendent joy,” said the big green bat.

This is so good! Thanks for sharing :)

Now if you could only tell me how to drive to the exit so I can get out of the car...

> The funniest thing is, the guy who was most outspoken about his transformation, about feeling 'the wisdom of the plant spirits', and how all this here was 'a dream reality', after a few years became a cop. Another friend is today a wealthy corporate lawyer.

It's good to be wary of cheap spirituality. Thanks for sharing your story. I've seen similar. It's that whole Steve Jobs taking LSD kinda thing, isn't it?

>the guy who was most outspoken ... after a few years became a cop. Another friend is today a wealthy corporate lawyer.

Or perhaps people who seek power and aren't afraid to take risks are the sort of people who end up trying ayahuasca.

We'd need more data about people who had ayahuasca to establish a link :-)

The problem with this comparison is subjectivity. We will never know if they became better versions of their own self, nothing happened or the whole thing changed them for the worse, because we would need to access the parallel in time with their lives without the experience, to objectivelly understand the phenomena.

In their particular evolutionary ladder, how many stairs they jumped?

In the end the best way to understand this, is to understand what they tell you about themselves, how they were before and after the experience. It may not look much from your perspective, but it may be something better, from their point of view at least, then what was possible before..

> The present study’s findings significantly advance our understanding of the brain basis of one of the most unusual and intense altered states of consciousness known – previously likened to dreaming...

This study does not "find that DMT produces a dream-like state"; that was already well established. This study identifies the subtle brain activity that differentiates the hallucinations from dreaming.

> This experience is often characterized by a sense of entering into an entirely ‘other’ ... dimension. It is not uncommon for people to describe encounters with sentient ‘entities’ or ‘presences’ within this perceived other world and for the experience to subsequently challenge beliefs about the nature of reality and consciousness.

These effects are what makes this drug so interesting and differentiates it from most hallucinogens and dreaming. It doesn't just leave you with strange memories you know are nonsense. It creates experiences that feel real and invokes thoughts that cause you to question your understanding of reality.

I've tried explaining this to people who've never tried psychedelics. It is unlike any other substance I've ever tried (a lot of them, FWIW) in that it leaves you with lasting impressions. Some things I gleaned tripping have stuck with me to this day. It has changed me for the better.

> It has changed me for the better.

Is that the old you saying that, or the new you?

That's very meta. And an excellent philosophical question!

Assuming you can remember the old you, I think in most cases it's fair to say that it's the new you that has enough knowledge of the old you.

It's just like normal learning really, if you learn something, you become a new you that has knowledge of the old you and the new you might then say "what I learned right now was better."

I know, I'm not the best at philosophy.

If a drug significantly alters your brain to the point that you no longer think the way you did before, how do you know you changed for the better? Maybe the old you, the you that existed before you took the drug, would say this is not better. Maybe the new you only thinks you are now changed for the better. Maybe you didn't change at all! After all, do you even have a way to measure what has changed, and how much better or not-better you've gotten? Do you just feel better? Much like an old dinged-up ball bearing with new grease, it may squeak less, but is the ball actually any different than it was before? And in the context of how we feel about ourselves, which really matters? Is our perception of ourselves more important than reality? If so, the statement "It has changed me for the better" is really just saying "I feel better than before".

Another way to look at the question "how do you know if the change made you 'better'": Say you took a drug, and suddenly you changed from being a liberal, to being a Nazi. (This happens a lot, not with drugs, but with events; an event happens, and suddenly someone turns from very liberal, to very far-right conservative) How do you know if the change has made you better? The new you is perfectly fine with Nazi-hood, and thinks you are better. But the old you would be pretty sure that the new you is the exact opposite of better. How can one tell if a change has made them better? Which version should we listen to? How do we define better, and how do we measure it?

>If so, the statement "It has changed me for the better" is really just saying "I feel better than before".

The point is what changed is the perception of your emotions. Instead of feeling stuck following your every negative thought you suddenly realize that you can influence how you feel. You dont just feel better then before, you arent still high, you found a way to influence how you feel. You are no longer stuck to the road, but realized that you can leave the road, turn the autopilot off. The way you deal with emotions has changed fundamentally by leaving the observer role. And who are we if not our actions. I would also say, anything that makes me decide to be a more aware and happier person is a fundamentally positive development as it gives me the opportunity for more meaningful decisions. And with me being happy, these decisions will likely be positive.

At the core of this question is your view on humankind. I dont think happier more self reflective people are a bad development. I think the best way to make the world a better place is by making more people happy. I think you have a higher capacity for doing good things for others if you arent miserable yourself, if you arent just coping with day to day life. And you have better chances to reduce bad unintended consequences if you work on being more self reflective.

I think the examples you bring are more caused by reevaluating ones moral compass then by changing how you function.

I won't disagree with you but you have to consider the context of the original comment: use of psychedelics. Their effects, though I'm happy to see more and more research being done, are already widely discussed so when he said "it changed me for the better" we can quite surely rely on the numerous reports of how psychedelics changed peoples lives. Not so sure about new far-right extremists feeling better in their echo bubble... I more often hear about people being more at peace with their lives, overcoming stress or anxiety issues, learning to go with flow after years of fighting it, etc.

A bigger question is what was that 'you'. Was it the ego? Was it my sense of self? We keep changing throughout our lives. But psychedelics are more than just a life changing experience. AFAIK, it's the only way to experience ego death. The dissolution of self can remind you of the transient nature of things and lead you towards spirituality. The good or bad aspect should be judged from that perspective rather than your perspective. The ego is temporary, but the spirit is not.

I have never come close, but the practice of meditation seems to be bring people there, or close.

Meditation and psychedelics affect different areas of the brain, neurologically speaking. I think they are complimentary.

Is it true that multiple people tripping on it at the same time, in different rooms, see the same things, events and even people in their trip? I've never tried any psychedelics, but if there were any truth to what I have heard, it would be a fascinating topic to study while monitoring brainwave activity.

If you're asking whether DMT facilitates some kind of metaphysical communication, the answer is no.

However, it's possible that a common environment or shared experience before or during the trip could seed similar or related experiences.

The reason I ask is that Graham Hancock in an interview on Joe Rogan was saying that specifically Ayahuasca would allow people to see the same thing, exact same events, whereas DMT would not. Perhaps I misunderstood what he meant. He seemed to imply there was something intrinsically different about the way that was prepared and used traditionally and how it affected people. He seemed to imply it connected people.

Ayahuasca is typically consumed as part of a larger ritual ceremony that steers the participants towards a particular experience (depending on the Shaman you may be told to expect to encounter a certain entity named "Mescalito" for example.)

There is no known mechanism by which DMT can connect people any differently than any other powerful experience that people have similarly had at some point.

Yes. This absolutely happens. What was strange for me was looking at clouds while tripping and pointing out all the things I saw in the clouds. My companion saw all the same things. There’s no way a sober person would have seen any of it.

But of course this by no means that some sort of unknown communication between your brains was occuring. Having your perception altered in a similar way could simply cause people to see similar patterns.

Couldn't they just be following the leader, aka your thought?

It could be suggestion / false memory. Once one participant tries to explain their experience in more concrete terms, the others start to fit the description into their own experience, and since we have similar prior experiences, they "see" the same things.

Try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5sk504Yc94

Poor presentation.

I didn't have "sleep." So now what?

"So we're gonna do a little experiment, memorize these words, then write them down, now I'm gonna read ... oh will you look at the time, it's been almost 2 minutes, that is we're almost at the end of your attention span, so here's the conclusion, bye."

He could have at least read the (supposed) entire list, then tell us which ones weren't actually on the original list, or ask us which ones weren't. Or something.

Contrary to popular opinion I haven't found DMT to be that much different than any other psychedelic drug when comparing equivalent doses. Sure it's true that while high on the drug it creates experiences that feel real, but that's true of dreaming too, isn't it? It's not obvious that it wasn't real until it's over. And similarly I have had the same feeling from high doses of "plain old" psychedelics.

Same. In my experience there is one basic "psychedelic state" accessible via all the well-known compounds, which have different characteristics (especially in terms of duration) but aren't qualitatively different in any meaningful way. I suspect that a lot of the differences in reported effects between the major psychedelic compounds comes down to set and setting (i.e., ayahuasca is associated with traditional cultures whereas LSD is not).

Oh, the differences are very very marked. Sure, psilocybin and 4-HO-MET aren't going to be that different (even tho I swear I can tell them apart if I dosed blindly), but giving some examples:

2C-X family gives me some very weird sensation on the chin before I even feel the main effects. Also the visuals tend to be techno-alien-geometric-engineering-architecture themed if that makes any sense. Also, especially 2C-E in high doses, creates time/perceptual distortions I haven't experienced with anything else; as in, I say something to my buddy, go to a different room, and hear what I said with my own voice coming from the original room.

Psilocybin and analogs create a very dreamy, child-like, earth loving mindset, not always very visual, but when visual everything seems to be covered in native-americanesque patterns.

DMT visually is absolutely alien. As in colorful liquid metal moving in very organic ways. The "curtain" for me is basically a sea of colorful alien robot matter. If ayahuasca feels more like psilocybe mushrooms, earthy and human, in terms of visuals, DMT is a supercharged, sharper, edgier, faster, stronger, out of the galaxy and in your face version of such.

After you have oddballs like DiPT, where the mindset doesn't change much, visually there's nothing, but there are loads of audio hallucinations and distortions. My own voice sounds like Barry White on it; most women sound like talking through Coke cans. Slapping a table sounds like drums, and playing drums sounds like dropping cutlery on the sink. Some music sounds better, some worse. Very strange.

LSD and derivatives, my favorites overall, I find them the most malleable by the set and setting in the feelings it can create and the visuals you will see. On the other hand I feel the experience more "on-rails" and even doing large amounts (800µg my max) I felt nowhere near a bad trip. I wouldn't 8x the average dose on mushrooms because the mushrooms have shown me things I wouldn't be able to handle at bigger doses. LSD for me is very, very forgiving.

Hmm. Interesting. Would love your thoughts on near-death experiences and the many world interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics. When I had my first trip (400~600µg) I was alone in a room and had a couple of near-death experiences. And then a couple of more trips later (150~250µg on average as I'm not mentally prepared to take high doses again) many weird things happened in ways that I could only describe as synchronicity-ish that have clearly saved my life (during and after the trips), and I'm now convinced I have actually committed suicides or died in an accident (during and after those trips) in many horizontal worlds and my consciousness had somehow floated to a world i.e. this one where I have not yet killed myself (like in a quantum suicide experiment).

Would love your thoughts on near-death experiences and "horizontal worlds". For me what's interesting about psychedelics has always been that it is about death and consciousness. Any sort of hallucinations that could be categorised as "visual" or "audio" were just the side-effect as ultimately all senses converge to a single point, or a zero-dimension singularity if you will, an infinity encapsulated in the void, and that is death itself - or at least that is my interpretation of my experiences.

Also could you describe things that mushroom had shown you that you wouldn't be able to handle at bigger doses? I had only taken mushroom once. I'm always under the impression that mushroom is a weaker psychedelics than acid but perhaps that is inaccurate. Would love to learn more.

The difference is rarely do people wake from a dream and feel they ought to change their life in major ways as a result.

Curious what "high" doses of "plain old psychedelics" might be? I've never gone further than 200ug LSD.

Check out erowid if you want some high dosage lsd stories. In the early 90s I encountered some "mop up" doses that were claimed to be in the 3000 mic range. I tried them twice.. first time during the Rodney king riots in SF (took half a mopup, started out really fun then devolved into a nightmare. Hid in the garden of a high end restaurant, literally inside a bush, watching the mayhem unfold on market Street.. Second time was while backpacking in pt Reyes and that was the best, most transformative drug experience I've ever had. I talked to a mushroom and learned a lot about my self and humanities relationship to nature.. But, at peak, I was completely disassociated. Basically blind/deaf to external reality for about 3-4 hours. I was with 3 other people.. and I think we were just rolling around in a meadow the whole time. Eventually we somehow ended up at the ocean, and the sunset brought us all to tears. In the 90s, the most commonly available doses here on the street were about 150 mics, and cost around 2 to 6 bucks. And the comedown was ugly. I've been told that cheap/old lsd, degrades into strychnine.. which is why the comedown is so harsh. On the high dose ones I did, the comedown was completely different. Nowadays I stick to the occasional couple of shrooms or a hit of molly once or twice a year. I think today I would have too much emotional baggage and ties to my consentual shared hallucination with humanity to do psychs that powerful again.

> The difference is rarely do people wake from a dream and feel they ought to change their life in major ways as a result.

I dunno about a major way, but I've had dreams which took days to properly snap back after, because the experiences felt so real that I felt an emptiness similar to bereavement for the fictional people that I dreamed about. That felt just as real to me as my experiences on DMT. I've also had Ketamine experiences that were similarly profound and have stuck with me since. Once I had a K trip which felt like I was outside of time, watching the cogs of the universe tick past instant by instant for all eternity. That experience snapped me out of a pretty depressive period of my life.

People of course have profound meaningful experiences on DMT, but I don't think its exclusive to it and any strong hallucinogen or dissociative can, in my opinion, have similarly strong impacts for some people.

I've had an experience and ego-death on 500ug. I've done DMT once. That LSD experience produced hallucinations, including 'data' in my field-of-view like I was using an AR app. I was looking into a mirror as it was happening - the 'resolution' of the experience was so high-fidelity it seems impossible to have occurred. I wrote a very detailed report after and even have a video of me describing what I'm seeing only moments after I can back to my 'self' post ego-death. It was every bit as fascinating as DMT. That experience was the most significant of my life.

Highest I've ever gone was 500ug LSD, and still, it was a more intense experience of the same "quality", not something completely different.

Five grams of a dried Psilocybe Cubensis strain.

Note: The experience lasts significantly longer than a non-ayahuasca DMT experience.

It's probably important to remember that most people aren't this rigorous about drug use, in general. If one is not precisely monitoring dosages, let alone trying to compare roughly equivalent doses and effects among a variety of drugs, DMT is waaay easier to ingest a high dose of, accidentally or otherwise, compared to most other psychedelics.

Did you get to the "break through" level?

Ok, we've changed the title above from "Ayahuasca alters brain waves to produce waking dream-like state, study finds" to that of the article.

DMT is also naturally released at the time of death. These experiences sound similar to how the afterlife is described by many religions.

What’s your source for this? I hear this often, but I’ve never seen any study that has measured DMT release at death.

This was based on a misconception that was later debunked.

DMT is not known to be produced by the human brain.

And even if it were... the large amounts of monoamine oxidase naturally present in the blood would all too quickly break it all down.

The only way too get enough DMT to temporarily overwhelm the MAO is through exogenous sources.

The type of MAO enzyme that breaks down triptamines is not present on blood, AFAIK.

Title is inaccurate, this study used intravenous DMT, as opposed to Ayahuasca which is a oral concoction of DMT and an MAOI.

Interesting nonetheless.

Agreed that it's interesting nonetheless.

I've been "joking" with my friends that I want to take a trip to Costa Rica to do Ayahuasca with them.

The "story" of how Ayahuasca came to be is quite fascinating: Ayahuasca, the drink, is actually comprised of two plant-based ingredients. One of the ingredients supplies the "DMT" portion, but the effects would last a very short time (something like 20 seconds to a couple minutes. My numbers might be off).

Then they stumbled on this second ingredient, which grows in a completely different area of the jungle, which prolongs the effects of the first ingredient (I'm guessing this is the MAOI portion, but I'm not 100% sure). Combining these two ingredients into the "Ayahuasca" we know today, the experience went from short 30-second trips to these 6-12 hour "sessions".

The most interesting part is that the shamans claim it was the "plants" or the "plant spirits" that told them to seek out the second ingredient and combine the two.

As I heard it, Ayahuasca traditionally refers to the MAOI portion specifically. The MAOI will increase the activity of nearly any psychotropic drug and has some minor effects on it own, so it makes sense that the MAOI came first, and then adding other things things to it followed.

Fun fact: the ayahuasca alkaloids glow brightly under black light. I've never done ayahuasca, but I tried making some fluorescent body paint via crushed syrian rue seed "tea". It was extremely effective: glows very bright, soaks into the skin a bit so it stays for a couple days before fading, and is completely invisible under normal light. Kinda fun - could potentially cause minor psychotropic effects if you paint a large surface area, but I didn't notice any.

>the ayahuasca alkaloids glow brightly under black light.

Black light?

Black light:


We had one of those at home when I was a child, it was a lot of fun.

Ok, I would have called that a UV light. Never heard them referred to like that before.

Many, though not all, participants and shamans report the presence of an intelligence that is distinct from their own.

That's been my experience with it. For me, the literalness of "plant spirit" is accepted reality. In the circles I hang out with, we don't put the term, plant spirit, in air quotes.

Generally, the two plants that are combined are the Ayahuasca vine, which contains the various MAOI, and Chacruna, which contains DMT. Many plants yield DMT, though only some plants yield a sufficient concentration to be useable.

From an experiential point of view, the plant material of Ayahuasca and Chacruna are the material body. They each have a specific intelligence that is sentient, and conscious, and responsive to the ikaros (the song sung in ceremony).

It does imply that, it should be possible to contact the intelligence named Ayahuasca by ingesting the vine alone, or without ingestion. After all, what is contacting the plant spirit (plant consciousness) is your own spirit (consciousness). That has happened with me as well.

To followup: Marijuana, the plant material, should also house a plant spirit, with its own intelligence, knowledge base, and purpose. Likely, also responsive to songs that are related to it. And indeed, that has also been my experience with it too. I call that spirit by the Sanskrit name, Ganja, and tried it with the Sanskrit mantra.

I haven't done Ayahuasca or DMT but in my experiences with hallucinogens I occasionally meet a Neanderthal who is quite skilled in walking me through my trip while on Psilocybin Mushrooms.

Yeah, my understanding is that psilocybin has its own thing. Like an intergalactic internet.

Your experience with your guide reminds me a bit of Hank Wesselman's experiences, written up in his memoirs.

I am reminded of this:


> I too can corroborate that shrooms "come with a built-in shaman"

More reading for the pile. Thanks!

Actually the DMT containing plant is completely inactive orally without a MAOI. You wouldn’t get any effect short-term or otherwise.

For more on the shamans' claims that the plants communicate information through Ayahuasca experiences, see the work of Jeremy Narby, it's undeniable that the natives understanding of plants is extensive and however it was come by it's an invaluable source of knowledge that has been 'harvested' by big pharma for many contemporary medicines.

This lecture from Dr. Peterson was pretty fascinating and succinct: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gol5sPM073k

Don't listen to Jordan Peterson, listen to Terence McKenna:


¿Por qué no a los dos?

My guess is they already knew about the MAOI to at least some degree and noticed that the effects of other plants were amplified when combining them. So when they found the DMT plant, someone figured it'd be worth seeing what happens when they combine them.

If it's true that the DMT plant has no psychoactive effects when taken alone, maybe someone had already had a routine of taking the MAOI and just eating most plants they came across, to see what would happen.

I heard an alternative is "yopo" where they blow it up each others nose via a straw and I don't think that needs an MAOI.

DMT can also be smoked or injected, the reason why oral consumption requires the MAOI is because it prevents an enzyme in your liver* from destroying the DMT.

The effects of smoking it are only ~15 minutes long from what I've heard. Blowing it up each others nose can't be that common recreationally at least given that there's much easier ways to consume it (smoking it).

I heard there's a lot of barfing involved - made it seem kind of unappealing.

Barfing is literally the point of ayahuasca. It's even called "la purga" by some.

Comes out the other end too.

Barf the rainbow.

I've had my own dreams while awake, the key is to stay aware while you are going to sleep..

Everyone knows the state between sleeping and awake, its great.

But to go to sleep while still conscious, is like advanced meditation. I've had similar experiences during meditation.

The world around you merges into a dream-like state, but it all seems to feel more real than the world we usually experience while awake.

Dreams are more of a direct experience than reality, the feelings and emotions are always much more powerful for me than real life.

Great book by Jennifer Dumpert about how to do this! She coins the technique "Liminal Dreaming" http://liminaldreaming.com

If you need that dream state while being awake, low dosages of mescaline will take you to that place. San Pedro cactus & peyote is the easiest to get as the stuff grows everywhere.

I make my own dried San Pedro powder to consume now. It's great. Two to six tea spoons of this stuff will give you more than 10 hours of dream state. Be sure to fast from the day before. Go out in nature if you can, it's great!

In my "personal mystique" i have a hypothesis where the mind is really the stuff that our universe are made of. As in the universe is the product of something imagined, and giving we have the same medium that can navigate and permeate the universe we can become one with it, because in reality we are not apart from it, we just believe it and dont even try to advance into this reality where we can navigate the universe with our mind.

Im kind of shy to say this out loud here on HN with such a distinct crowd of people who really study those subjects, but given is more of a personal believe, i guess i can be forgiven if it sounds stupid or even a uninformed point of view.

Its the sparks between the neurons, its the quantum-connected microtubules.. I get you.

One often mentioned trick is to look for stuff to read if you think you are in a dream - street signs and other text tend not to make a lot of sense (the brain falls behind GPT2 in that regard).

That's not exactly like this, this and other "tricks" are described in great details in Stephen LaBerge's books on Lucid Dreaming

What part did I miss out on for this particular technique?

You're likely thinking of dream induced lucid dreaming, in which you've trained yourself to run routine reality tests such as looking at text carefully, and if the test fails, you are triggered into greater lucidity from within the dream.

OP was talking about falling asleep in such a way that you never lose waking awareness, you just watch as your sense of the world as it was is replaced by a dream world, and then you can explore the dream world as you like. Also known as Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming.

>and then you can explore the dream world as you like.

Not sure I understand the difference, you can as w ell start exploring from inside the dream. At least this is how it happened to me, without any prior plan I would realize I'm dreaming and start experimenting. That's kinda funny because I thought everyone is doing it, until much later when I started sharing this experience :D

A bit late but still, the thing about reading in a dream is if you briefly look/read something your brain will makeup the meaning, simulating reality. But if you look at each individual character you will only see some primitive lines and circles because the language is a complicated thing and the part of the brain related to it is off during sleep.

In other words you will see something like this |\-oo\-- and your mind will say "ok this means train station is this way". The key to this and all other tricks is attention, just think how many times a day you pay attention to exact shape and font of letters? Usually it's not much :)

Yeah, its the meaning.. Words express the meaning but the words or symbols aren't the meaning. I've thought about this a while ago, but you reminded me about it.. thanks!

If there is no text around, just look at your fingers.

V-Sauce did an episode of Mindfield on the Ayahuasca experience. I was really surprised he went through the whole thing and documented it quite thoroughly (except I suppose the embarrassing bits)


It clearly frightened him to some extent, but in the end he did learn something of himself that hadn't occurred to him before.

Watching this now, thanks for the link!

I really want to try DMT but terrified to do that without professional help nearby e.g. on an Ayahuasca retreat.

I have experienced both LSD and shrooms but have heard DMT is on another level.

DMT is far less risky than LSD and Shrooms. It lasts 10-15 minutes and you are mostly in awe of what you experience. Lsd/shrooms give you hours to self reflect in good or bad spots and entangle your thoughts in good or bad spots... i’d say DMT is far easier to experience than a full on acid trip

While DMT is typically only 10-15 minutes, it can certainly feel like hours, days or longer, so I'm not sure if the end result is really much difference in the sense of how long you are tripping should it go bad.

> you are mostly in awe of what you experience

careful there, some people had really bad trips on DMT with their deepest fears coming to haunt them. Set and setting...

Ayahuasca last a lot longer and the active ingredient is DMT.

You absolutely want to find an experienced group in order to guide you. Never do it while taking prescription meds like anti-depressants, opioids or others. Ayahuasca is very different from taking straight DMT. I haven't done the latter, but the experiences I have heard differ significantly in certain respects. You should never do Ayahuasca recreationally in the spur of the moment.

All that being said, there are experienced groups, in Holland for example, that lead safe group Ayahuasca ceremonies, such as a long weekend with 2 ceremonies. Peru is an option but it's much more of a raw experience and less gentle to a western mindset.

Depends on the dose. Personally I've had stronger trips with LSD and mushrooms. Also in all ceremonies I've participated you get to drink ayahuasca a number of times so you can judge if you want more or not.

In a ceremony I saw a woman drink ayahuasca just once and she had a much stronger trip that the rest of us, but this is uncommon.

Smaller doses of DMT are also enjoyable. You can mix a bit with some tobacco, roll it into a cig and smoke it slowly. It wont take you to the level of ego death but will give you a feeling of the effects while you still maintain full control of the trip.

Edit: This works when you smoke changa. I never tried it pure so I don't know how well that would work in a cig.

I concur. LSD is heaven, shrooms are ok, and salvia is just weird. However, both DMT and ayahuasca feel just too extreme or scary to me. Could also be that I just grew older before this stuff became popular.

I don't see how DMT can be on another level. LSD is already in another dimension. How much more freaky can it get?

For me: LSD is like the walls of reality melting before your own eyes. Mushrooms is like you mind melted with a wild animal. DMT is like your consciousness melts with your imagination.

That's an interesting take.

I wonder if other people would agree with that description, but it sounds almost palpable.

I agree w the above r.e. lsd/shrooms .. never done dmt tho.. not particularly interested. I've done salvia which I've been td is like a super light version of dmt, and was not a big fan.. thought at least salvia is only about 15 minutes :D lots of ominous dread.

On LSD I've always still been in the room, or at least had some idea of where I was. On DMT, I'm not even on the same planet and I don't remember where my body is.

It really depends on how much you do. On a sufficient dose of LSD or mushrooms, you can lose all connection with physical reality for (what seems like) eons, and "travel to" (or construct?) arbitrarily weird places. But for those substances, it may require more careful setup (quiet, dark room, eyeshades). With DMT you don't have much choice.

I totally agree, depends on the amount you take, and also your state of mind and how willing you are to "let go".

Quite a bit.

Interestingly enough, they learned that increased neural signal diversity resulted, and when someone was "peaking" on DMT the brain was also lit up significantly. This is akin to the research found in dreams and R.E.M. but it's still rather inconclusive as to whether or not inducing such activity in the mind results in the associated conscious experience. Many materialists believe this to be the case, but this does not sit well with my understanding of Mind over Matter.

Maybe the materialist standpoint is right, but even though the measurements are similar doesn't at all have to mean the outcomes are similar. The devil's in the details

It seems difficult to say the least to maintain a non materialist point of view in the face of all the evidence that chemicals alter mental state.

Why? If this reality is (something like) a dream, it wouldn't be all that strange if the dream contents (drugs, brains) behaved in ways commensurate with what's going on in "reality" (the mind of God or whatever), without those dream contents being the cause.

I thought the same thing until I had my first experience. Now it's hard to maintain a materialist point of view...

I had the exact opposite experience. I’m having a hard time following the chain of logic that goes from a material substance altering the way you think to not believing that the mind is generated by the physical substance of the brain.

"Main exclusion criteria consisted in <18 years of age, having no previous experience with a psychedelic/hallucinogenic drug..."

I'd be really interested to hear the participants (who weren't given the placebo) describe their experience and what, if any, lasting impacts it's had.

If you've gotten to your mid 30s (participant mean age was 34.4) and you don't have any prior hallucinogenic experience, DMT is one helluva introduction.

Last year after I turned 29. At that point I've smoked weed a handful of times in my life and have not done any other drugs. But being a programmer can cause you to question life, our existence, consciousness etc etc...I knew about certain drugs that could be used for "spirit walks" but I didn't think much of it. At a younger age I was an atheist and after programming for a while and reading a few non-fictions books, I was (agnostic + optimistic nihilist). Life was good.

So last year someone told me about a shaman that comes to my city twice a year and that he conducts ayausca ceremonies. I thought what the heck, let me try it. So I paid the fee and drove out to the mountains to meetup with this shaman person. I did followed the diet that they recommended. Basically the weekend goes like this: on the Friday night at around 19:00, you drink some of the brew, it's black and weird and taste disgusting. Revolting actually. You then lay down and try to relax.. and after about 30 minutes your journey begins. I'm not going to ellaborate on that as it is ultra subjective and in a way very private, but what happens in the next few hours is life changing. He chants and sings, burns different plants (similar to smudge stick), play instruments (bells, drums, flutes, kalimba etc)... the most profound for me is that a highway of empathy gets opened up and you feel everything. I thought about my mom and I felt EVERYTHING that she has ever carried on her shoulders. It was deeply valuable. I also met my soul or inner god or true spirit. It was a childlike, pure and powerful being, sitting in a garden. I knew it was me because I was sitting where he/it was sitting. The amount love and power and purity and brightness that radiated from it was just beautiful. It had no age and lives outside of time (time is messed up in that place..), is indestructible and immortal. I'm stil agnostic but I now believe that I do have a soul and it is immortal in a way. I was also shown that we must propagate. Over and over, the concept of propagation showed up. I'm unmarried with no children (and never really wanted children), but it showed me I need to find my people (same race, culture, language, same mannerisms, someone that will aknowledge me - basically I need to find my equal mate) and propagate. That's all I want to share about the Friday night for now.

If you can sleep that night, you sleep. I did not close my eyes at all after the journey ended. I was to scared to stand up and walk back to the cabins. I just waited for the sun to come up to walk back to the cabins to take a shower. All the people there make some small talk. We were 8 poeple the first time I went. Nobody eats breakfast. Then at 09:00 on the Saturday morning the shaman gives everyone San Pedro cactus powder. It also tastes disgusting, but this experience was the best for me. After about an hour the effect come on. Then, for the next 16 hours or so you walk around in the fields/gardens at the resort. We are not allowed to speak to each other. Everything slows down. Time goes away. You are in a dream but awake. Throughout the Saturday you can ponder what happened the previous night. For I received lots of small truths about plants and foods and trees and stuff. Awesome experience. I did not vommit from the San Pedro, my body 100% accepts it. I made me feel like a timeless monk, just there to observe the tree.

At about 15:00 they serve some fruits. It is the most amazing taste to eat fruits while under the influence of San Pedro. Not only were you starving but you get to eat the fruits of nature and that in itself is a worthwile experience.

The night winds down and people go to sleep. I did not sleep that night either. I was too afraid of the dark like the previous night. The sunday morning I went home.

All in all, coming from a non-religious person, the experience was mind-bogling. It showed me where religions/spiritually possibly came from and it allowed me to peer behind the curtain a bit. I haven't explain above the full extent of the experience because it is very difficult to explain with human words what it's like. October last year I attented again and and had different experiences, example, for a few minutes when I laid stil, I could feel the electricity flowing through my body, I could feel my arms vibrate AND BEST OF ALL, I could hear everything vibrate. You know all that stuff they say about everything vibrates? I've experience it for about 10 minutes, and it was awesome.

Last year November I ate 5 grams of the Golden Teacher (a very good mushroom). I was home alone on a Friday night, so I ate it and had another mind bogling experience that night, followed by about 6 hours of CLEAR introspection. I could see my life in front of me and move pieces around as if it was my body/organs. Awesome night.

After the first session with Shaman person, that very next week I quit my theraphy cause I also saw how it was non-sense - it became a moaning session that convinced me that I'm solving my problems and moving forward, without actually making progress.

Would I recommend this stuff to anyone? Yes and NO!. You will not come out the same way afterwards and it is a one way ticket. You cannot unsee and unfeel any of it.I think about it EVERY DAY. I now eat much less meat, NO processed foods, are empathetic to the max, I do cold showers everyday. I bought small instuments (a Kalimba, Occarina and humming bowl). I burn incense a few times a week (and regularly smudges), listen to VERY different kinds of music now... basically it changed my life. I also drink camomile tea every night, with candle light (no artificial light) and play the kalimba while almost falling asleep.

Before all this I was most likely a very toxic, typical arrogant programmer type. Listened to metal all the time and ate fast foods all the time. I had a "I dont care" attitude about everything and everyone in life, including myself. All that has evaporated and it feels like that person was a different person. I also started respecting most religions, specifically buddhist and some indian philosophies. My tollerance for fundamentalist religions decreased a lot (basically christianity + islam), specifically when it comes to churches and "spiritual leader" (priests, rabi's etc). It all feels fake because it feels like I've seen/touched/felt the true religion (cannot actually call my experience that but it felt like the true reality).

Anyway I'm gonna stop writing now, I have some code to commit!

edit: english not my first language and the above was typed with haste.

edit 2: for interest sake, I was the youngest person there, both times. Was mostly people above 30 and 40, guys who are ultra successful and rich, not knowing what to do next with their lives. My purpose for going was just to try and understand consciousness better since I'm a programmer. I didnt know I was about to take the most powerful substance, and as my first psycedelic. I've decided I won't consume it again (it's too hardcore for me), but I will consume San Pedro again as my body seems to love it!

I know there's a stigma to being anti-psychedelia. But how are we so certain that we aren't causing irreversible harm to these people psyches? The phenomena these people are having can be equated with full blown religious experiences at least according to the anecdotal of what they experience. Whether they be pure ecstasy or rummaging through the depths of hell.

But we all have our own internal language which really express what we experienced. What we express to others is not the truth of the experience. I understand people can function in society. It's not difficult to function in society to at least pass by unnoticed. Even in the face of ultimate authority, we will not express the complete truth. Unless these authorities are aware of some way of seeing it all, how do we know these people aren't affected by this in a serious way? I just don't know how people can go through these experiences and not be affected.

Thinking they are gods while under the influence, seeing the true nature of it all, and yet go back into traffic the next day. How can these two things coexist.

I hate to gatekeep here, but I guess I'm going to kind of do it anyway: A lot of people who have taken psychedelic drugs and report a religious experience or an experience where they encountered ultimate reality, are mistaken.

So we get someone who had a moderately intense psychedelic experience for the first time and it overwhelmed them. That person has heard a lot about the mind-expanding properties of psychedelics, and figures "hey, that must really profound. That must have been religious. That must have been a mystical experience."

And they go about their daily life enjoying the totally-real benefits of taking LSD here and there. They feel happy and sociable. They feel more appreciative about their life. Great.

but look....

sometimes... folks who have mystical experiences have a difficult time integrating that experience. They obsess over it. They attempt to repeat it, but fail because they discover that it is not repeatable. They change their priorities in accordance with their new knowledge, to the bafflement of their friends. They find themselves unable to relate to other people because their priorities have become so far-fucking-out. They seek out people who may have experienced something similar by immersing themselves in religious practices, befriending religious teachers, and devouring everything they can get their hands on.

and so on and so forth.

My only point is that psychedelic experiences can seem very important and religious in nature. How genuinely important that experience was tends to be reflected in the person's reaction to it.

Why do scientific reports papers keep getting posted to HN? SR are like fatally flawed throwaway papers that take a lot of domain knowledge to interpret. This is the exact opposite of what a general audience like HN should be reading.

Nature's 'Scientific Reports' journal does indeed have a different editorial priority than other journals. The peer reviewers are instructed to evaluate scientific validity, not their own idea of importance. This is seen as advantageous by many scientists, who perhaps want to avoid getting stuck in the dice-roll crapshoot of peer review politics.

It seems like an incorrect mischaracterization to say they are all fatally flawed throwaway papers, no?

It's a commonly used journal, and a reasonable impact factor of 4. It's not like this is a predatory journal or a complete bullshit journal.

Do you have more information on why you don't like SR?


Has anyone ever tripped on Ayahuasca/DMT and afterwards embraced the thought that everything they experienced was simply a hallucination or dream that they cannot actually integrate back into their regular, sober, waking life?

I've taken Ayahuasca more than once and every ceremony was something that I could integrate into my life in one way or another. As with all similar substances, the setting and preparation make a huge difference, it should never be done recreationally in the spur of the moment but rather with guides who have experience. NEVER TO BE DONE WHILE TAKING CERTAIN MEDS LIKE ANTIDEPRESSANTS, OPIOIDS, ETC I have never done straight DMT, but from what I have heard I consider it to be a very different experience. Ayahuasca is a very unique experience to each individual although there are indeed stories that are shared such as seeing "machine elves", confronting snakes, feeling unbound from time, meeting a higher entity, etc.

The experience is easy to try but impossible to describe. You're often left with the impression that the dimension you enter (or however you describe what happens during a visit to the "DMT Realms") is more real than this life. You feel distinctly like this awake state IS the hallucination.

This experience can be very challenging or disillusioning for many people. Integration of these experiences is a super important part of the process of using psychedelics to systematically level up your consciousness. That said, once you've used them to a level where you have moved past shadow work and into more realization work, these substances seem almost miraculous.

My favorite quote on this is by Terence McKenna: "People say, 'is there risk, to DMT? It sounds so intense. Is it dangerous?' The answer is yes, it's tremendously dangerous. The danger is the possibility of death by astonishment."

Who's to say that waking consciousness isn't just a hallucination or dream that can't be integrated into their actual, transcendent, spiritual life?

According to you, I'm guessing nobody; but that's not what he was asking.

Is this a precursor to understanding any phenomenological basis to reports of "telepathy" and shared hallucinatory state as described in literature?


Seems like a stretch as but when we inquire if mind is local or not it gets quite blurry...

“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” -Nikola Tesla

Brilliant man, but he also believed in the luminiferous aether.

Yeah, he also didn't think nuclear power was achievable,which just proves no one is perfect..

But I can't think of anyone more genius than Tesla or Da Vinci.. and knowing their thoughts on these things is interesting =)

We can add "believed he had detected radio signals from Martians" to the list, too. I understand that Tesla was a great deal more intelligent than myself, but I'm skeptical of idols and heroes, and he was thinking in a different time without even having a thorough general education by his own time's standards. I can actually understand his belief about Martian radio signals, given his limited knowledge by modern standards and the fact that he probably lacked the statistical analysis to determine what patterns were relatively likely to appear by chance. He was undoubtedly very intelligent, but I don't think "Tesla believed it" is a compelling case for something being probable. It is interesting as historical trivia.

John von Neumann might make the list of "more intelligent," depending on how we define intelligence... not that I'm trying to idolize him, either!

Edit: To not be a total downer, I'll add my favorite Tesla quote (from 93 years ago):

> When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

I agree, I never meant to imply that his thoughts make it probable. I just think his thoughts are interesting, someone so smart and able to deduce so much about invisible phenomena, not wanting to take credit for any of his incredible ideas being his own.. Maybe he was just overly modest?

so did Plato and Aristotle, so why the "but"

What is the difference between luminiferous aether and the electro-magnetic field?

Edit: Context

The aether was assumed to be a medium through which electromagnetic waves propagate - like sound through air, or waves through liquids and solids.

Isn't obsessing over the neurobiology of DMT experiences burying the lede? The far more interesting question in my mind is how mystical experience engenders lasting psychological benefit. And considering DMT's 5-7 minute half life, I doubt it has a lot to do with the physical brain.

I'm not sure I understand your question, or assertion...

Mystical experiences change beliefs, ideology, and alter the way we interpret reality in the long-term. Whether or not those beliefs exist in the physical brain, is, I guess, an open question.

All that said, I'm not entirely convinced that mystical experiences are particularly beneficial. I suspect that the changes in beliefs they engender can indeed be malignant.

But then again, I also low-key suspect that LSD was popularized by the CIA among hippies in the 60s in order to destabilize and undermine the anti-war movement, replacing activism with pointless psychedelia and the search for ultimate reality, mannn.

Shown in the Vsauce Mind Field video The Psychedelic Experience


One of the authors in the study, Robin L. Carhart-Harris, appears in the video

Obviously. Indigenous people who have been working with plant medicines for thousands of years (medicine people) understand all of reality to be a dream, and the physical dreaming state to be nothing less but the travel of one's spirit away from one's body, which results in the expansion of one's awareness.

Good to see progress in connecting what has been understood forever through experience with physical analysis, one must however not be fooled into thinking that one will understand anything about plant medicines by analyzing their physical effects -- what happens here starts on a much deeper level.

Out of topic, but this research reminds a lot me a movie gem from the 80's called "Alterate States".

Humor related to Ayahuasca and some of the HN demographic: https://www.theonion.com/ayahuasca-shaman-dreading-another-w...

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